The driver of a stolen 2005 Mini Cooper lost control and slammed the car into a stop sign before bringing the vehicle to rest just short of a large tree at 18th and Galer tonight around 10 PM. The intersection is midway down Galer’s slope, directly in front of Stevens Elementary.
It’s not clear how many people were in the car at the time of the accident but eyewitnesses at the scene reported as many as four occupants some of whom may have fled the scene. One person also said that one of the riders pulled out a gun when he exited the vehicle sending neighbors rushing back inside their homes for safety.
UPDATE 9:50 AM:
Seattle Police detained and questioned a man and a woman in the incident but both were released after officers could not determine if either had been the driver of the car. Seattle Police Department spokesperson Mark Jamieson said the incident began when the Mini Cooper was seen running a stop sign at Galer and 19th Ave by an officer on patrol in his cruiser. The Mini sped down 19th and turned right onto Highland where the officer lost sight of the car. After a short search of the area’s side streets, the officer came across the crash at 18th and Galer and ordered two people at the accident scene to the ground. Jamieson said his department does not believe any of the occupants of the car were armed but that the responding officer did have his gun out when he ordered the occupants onto the ground — standard procedure when responding to a stolen vehicle incident, Jamieson said.
Jamieson said the two people taken into custody were released because the responding officer could not identify who had been behind the wheel when the Mini was first spotted and it is too difficult to prove intent because the two may not have known they were riding in a stolen vehicle. Jamieson said the case is now being handled by auto theft detectives.
After police arrived, neighbors gathered around the vehicle to inspect the awful-looking spiderweb crack on the windshield of the black Mini with Texas plates. Another witness said a female had been sitting in the passenger seat where the windshield crack occurred. Inside the car, the deployed air bags could be seen and the stereo continued to play.
UPDATE 6/23/09 8:55 AM:
Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen said one aid unit responded to last night’s crash but did not transport anyone from the scene. We’re waiting to hear back from SPD to find out if they can shed any light on what happened.